osewalrus (osewalrus) wrote,

Link Harvest: The Atlantic "Why Women Can't have It All."


My thanks to [Bad username: goldsquare"] for pointing to this. It inspires me to want to write a piece entitled "No One Can Have It All." There is a very unhealthy culture in Washington wonkdom (and I expect in finance and elsewhere) around the level of self-immolation needed for career success. I will make a few quick observations:

1. Do we wish to raise pathological men? I raise this as a serious question because the article observes that men (in the author's opinion) are still culturally conditioned to put career first. Even assuming that is true, it should raise the question as to whether we think this is a problem to address or an environmental element to be accepted. Generally, however, we default to the later. Changing the former involves a serious societal investment.

2. Is "having it all" really a plausible goal? Is the problem that success in career requires the sacrifice of one's personal life, or that it is unrealistic to expect that it is possible to achieve the highest pinnacle of success without sacrificing one's personal life? If the later, revert to question #1. We should anticipate over time that the number of men and women willing to sacrifice personal life for professional life would be a small percent of the population, but should even out be gender over time. If it doesn't, is our our problem pathological men?

3. Are we stuck for the next 10-15 years working our way through the demographic snake? I have become convinced that what I call "the demographic snake" (or, more politely, "the demographic S curve") is the most under-appreciated element of social change and that we are due for a major, sudden dramatic shift in just about everything in approximately 10-15 years. This may just be one of them. The dramatic changes necessary to re-align society on the work/home/success axis may simply need to wait for a more chaotic time.

Update: Well, someone beat me to it. "There's no such thing as having it all" writes Lori Gottleib. While I don't necessarily agree with everything Lori says (as I generally leave the assembly of things to my wife while I cook dinner), I do agree with the reality of this paragraph:

"The real problem here isn't about women and their options. The real problem is that technology has made it possible to work 24/7, so that the boundary between work and our personal lives has disappeared. Our cubicles are in our pockets, at the dinner table, next to our beds and even next to our children's beds as we're tucking them in. In many households, one income isn't enough, and both men and women have to work long hours -- longer hours than ever before -- to make ends meet. The women Slaughter cites as being efficient - who wake up at 4 am each day, who punch in 1:11 or 2:22 on the microwave rather than waste the millisecond to punch in 1:00 or 2:00, who put their babies in front of the computer while they type rather than savor that tiny infant in their lap - made me want to cry. How terribly sad those lives are. But to make this about women misses the point. The problem here is that many people work too much -- not just women, and not just parents."

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